Selecting a Part of Your Digital Image by Color

In your photo-editing program, you can select pixels in your digital image based on color. Elements calls its color-based selection tool the Magic Wand, but other programs call it the Color Wand, Color Selector, or something similar. When you activate the Elements Magic Wand, the options bar offers some color controls. If your software offers a color-selecting tool, you likely have access to similar options. Here’s how they work:

1

Set the Tolerance.

This setting determines how closely a pixel must match the color of the one you click in order to be selected. At a low value, the tool selects only pixels that are very close in color. Raise the value to select a broader range of similar shades. This figure illustrates the results of using four different Tolerance values.

2

Select the Anti-Aliased option, if you want.

This option, available for the Elliptical Marquee only, smoothes jagged edges that can occur when your selection outline contains curved or diagonal lines.

3

Select Contiguous if you want to select only similarly colored pixels that are contiguous to the one you click.

Similarly colored pixels aren’t selected if any pixels of another color lie between them and the pixel you click. This figure illustrates the difference between contiguous and non-contiguous.

4

Select the Use All Layers option if you want the selection tool to see pixels on all layers.

The outline that you create affects only the active layer — the program just takes all layers into account when drawing the selection outline.

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